This thesis argues that the sixth book of Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, the Tale of the Sangreal, introduces a new idea of chivalry to the knights of the Round Table and challenges them to reform how violence is justified in Arthurian society at the fundamental level. The central issue revolves around the knight’s intentions as they are confronted with situations of violence. In the Grail quest, each knight must demonstrate that he uses his knightly skills for the benefit of the community, not for his own purposes. By contrasting how knights justify violence in terms of Arthurian ideals, which privileges the use of violence for individual gain, with how knights justify violence in terms of Christian ideals, which privileges the use of violence to protect the community, this thesis demonstrates why Arthurian civilization collapsed as civil war engulfed the kingdom.
Furthermore, the thesis shows how the Sangreal interacts with the rest of the Morte Darthur. It asks the knights to give up their worldly pretensions to honour and courtly privilege, and to reform their lives radically to comply with Christian ideals. This is achieved as the Grail journeys of the three Grail knights, Perceval, Bors, and Galahad, and the journey of Lancelot are examined closely, producing the spiritual biography of the knights. To demonstrate how far Arthurian civilization had moved from Christian ideals, the final chapter scrutinizes Arthur’s estrangement from God in the early years of his reign.
These investigations make it evident that the Sangreal acts as a mirror for the Morte Darthur, proposing a better way of being within the chivalric world by closely analyzing the justification of violence within that world. This demonstrates that the collapse of Arthurian civilization is unavoidable. Doctor of Philosophy